The Best All Time Dub Albums

lee-scratch-perryI am not going to get into a real deep explanation of what dub is, but I will start out with a basic definition. When I say dub, what I am referring to is the unique Jamaican remixing music style where vocals are stripped out mostly, there are healthy amounts of delay (echo) and reverb applied to the drums (particularly the snares and hi-hats), random sound effects, lead instruments and rhythm are introduced, and the song overall is made to sound like an outer-space and psychedelic influenced interpretation when somebody turns the bass up to 10+ accidentally.

The term dub is used by Eastern Caribbean and Trinis people to refer to what Jamaicans call dancehall. I’m not sure how this got so mixed up.

So here are my top dub albums:

The Seducer Dub Wise (1982 Hit Bound)

It’s hard to find something to say about this album that the isn’t communicated already by the record’s artwork. This Channel One production features the extraordinary dub engineer Scientist (Hopeton Brown) and reworks some Roots Radics extra-heavy tracks. One classic illustration of a no-frills roots dub is The Seducer, with its emphasis on the bass and drums, traces of echoed-out snippets of keyboards, rhythm guitar and vocals, and snappy short delay on snare.

Some of the standout tracks include “Mr. Special” (the vocalist is Don Angelo, but I don’t know what the original track is), “Rough Rider” (maybe Horace Andy), “Midnight Special” (“Slave Driver” by Frankie Paul on “Darker Shade of Black”) and “Bedtime Rock,” a heavy bass rendition of “Worries In The Dance” by Frankie Paul (the Channel One original version).

Unfortunately this album isn’t available for (legal) download yet. However, you can still get it at your favorite indie music store, eBay or from Ernie B’s Reggae. The original standout version of “Worries In The Dance” can be purchased from the Apple iTunes Store or Amazon.

The UK reggae super-group Aswad has made their dub debut with A New Chapter of Dub. It is comprised of dub versions of a majority of their 1981 New Chapter album on CBS. This isn’t the later poppy sound from Aswad that you are used to from “Don’t Turn Around,” “Fire,” and “On And On.” Instead, it is their foundational deep-roots style that rocked basement flats in Brixton in defiance of Maggie’s Farm (not Dylan, the Specials) and National Front.

Michael “Reuben” Campbell (who is not Michael “Mikey Dread” Campbell) mixed the album. The musical soundscapes explored on this album are much lusher than the average Jamaican dub album. “Dub Fire” is the subwoofer-destroying lead track which is a take on “Love Fire” by Aswad. It also became popular as the rhythm backing the anthemic Dennis Brown’s “Promised Land” (if “Love Fire” is something that appeals to you then you should definitely check out Aswad’s live version on their Live And Direct album in addition to the pseudo-dub version called “Mosman Skank” on the Countryman soundtrack. The “Mosman” that is referenced in the title is the older dread who sells hubcaps currently in Kingston in Barbican Square and plays the same character in Countryman).

“Bammie Blow” taks the horn parts from the original “Didn’t Know At The Time” track, and showcases them with a steady bass and drum foundation. A similar approach is taken in “Zion I” with “Zion’s” flut lead and a generous dose of dubbed-out vocals is added. Two other Aswad hits, “Natural Progression” and “African Children” are provided with dub mixes that are more traditional on “Natural Progression” and “Ghetto In The Sky.”